Shouldn’t the word “leadership” stand on its own?

Why do we qualify “leadership” with the word “good” or “bad?” I’ve been wrestling with this leadership question.

If “bad” has to be placed in front of the word “leadership,” does that which is being described even qualify as leadership at all?

What if instead of referring to someone as a “bad leader” or someone’s behavior as “bad leadership” we could simply come to understand: (1) the person is really not a leader; and (2) the actions are really not leadership? Rather, the person is just a title holder who conducts acts of imposition, acts of enforcement, or acts of administration.

People in certain positions certainly have the authority to impose, enforce and administer “stuff” in their efforts to guide an organization. Likewise, by simply holding a certain position, the position holder can impose power over others, remove certain desired benefits, or withhold rewards. But…

Holding a leadership position is not synonymous with being in a position of leadership.

Alternatively, someone in an informal leadership role can have tremendous influence and impact. Depending on his or her motives and behaviors, this informal leader would typically be referred to as a”good” or “bad” leader.

Yet again. If the word “bad” has to be used to describe the type of leader or their “leadership” behaviors, is this person really a leader and do these behaviors qualify as leadership? Or are these acts simply attempts of sabotage, destruction, or obstruction by an individual?

Perhaps the issue lies in our willingness to use the words “leader” and “leadership” too loosely. Maybe these terms should be reserved for more selective application; reserved only for those who demonstrate “good” leadership and restrained from being applied to those who demonstrate “bad” leadership. Eventually, we could come to understand that if someone is called a leader…their leadership is inherently good, without qualification. The oxymoronic term “bad leader” would eventually fade away.

2 thoughts on “Is “Good Leadership” Redundant?”

  1. Stacie Odhner-Sibley

    WOW…you hit the nail right on the head regarding a subject I never realized before. Makes you really think about how those said “leaders” got into their positions (and keep them) if they have no real leadership skills.

    1. Dr. Lee Ann Nutt

      Thanks for your comment, Stacie! I’d never really thought of leadership this way either until recently. Once it occurred to me, I can’t “unsee” it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top